Tuesday, March 6, 2012


A selection of glorious Jamesons yarn
that was free with the workshop!
   I had my first workshop experience on Saturday, a colourwork and fairisle session with the mighty Mary Henderson at the Great British Yarns showroom. I was really apprehensive before going, I knew that I would have the lowest level of skill of anyone there, and was afraid of taking up everyone else’s time by having to insist on basic instruction. I wasn’t sure how advanced the others would be, and whether I’d be slowing everyone else down. Thankfully, as soon as I got on with the first task, I realised that everyone was there because they were after a day of peaceful knitting and learning new skills, no-one was there to show me up or make anyone else look bad. It was a suitably challenging day, which definitely utilised my brain a way that hasn’t been done since leaving university! It is so refreshing and rejuvenating to learn a new skill, with each step forward we all gained momentum and were all keen to keep progressing. We were able to go at our own pace and choose our own work, which meant that we each learnt something slightly different. This was good as it meant that we all could share the one-on-one time with Mary as and when we needed it, and we could learn independently alongside that. As it was a colour workshop, it was really interesting to see how everyone put their colours together, and it has left me totally inspired for fairisle. 

Everyone's finished samplers. Mine is the purple and green
fairisle and the brown. blue and red intarsia.

I started my day by doing a fairisle sample that we all were given, it was a useful way to go over the techniques we were going to use for the rest of the day. Although I was the slowest in the group, I didn’t feel bad about it or feel like I was wasting the teacher’s time. Everyone was really patient and encouraging, which really put me at ease for the rest of the day. I managed to get to grips with the two-handed fairisle method, which I think will make me faster when I get around to doing larger things, and, although I haven’t quite mastered it, I’ve gotten to a level where all I need to do is practise. It feels great to learn something new and something that not everybody can do. It really gives me confidence, and that confidence inspires me to do lots of new things.

As Mum and I keep saying, all I need to do is learn the rules, and then I can set about breaking them.

A fellow workshopper getting down to it.
I was happy with my finished sample, it was a bit wobbly and there were a few mistakes, but overall it was pretty impressive and something I never thought I could do so quickly. After that I wanted to learn how to do intarsia. I have to admit that when I asked to do it, I wasn’t 100% sure what it was. I just knew that it was something I couldn’t do currently, and therefore it was something worth learning. It’s the kind of thing that, as a beginner, doesn’t occur to me to learn. It doesn’t come up in many patterns that I look at, and I often assume that the colourwork I’ve seen comes about from sewing up blocks of different colours. Intarsia is the way of knitting so that you keep it all together as you knit, and it was so rewarding to get my head around it. Once I’d got used to what I was doing, it was really easy to get on with it, and I am so pleased with the finished result.

Colours on the go!
I also conquered the long-tail cast on, something that I’ve wanted to do for ages for no other reason that it looking awesome when you do it. Of course it has its practical uses too, but I feel like a wizard when I do it and that’s that.

The whole day was so lovely, I’m still buzzing. I feel more confident in my abilities and I’m so keen to keep knitting. It was just what I needed after having a few weeks of being exasperated and disappointed with myself. My mind is racing with all sorts of ideas, and I’ve learnt so much. 
Glorious pile of fairisle.


  1. Your samples look amazing! I love the look of fair isle but have really struggled with tension. I've abandoned it for lace work but I plan on going back. Congrats on learning something new!

  2. WOW! You're kicking serious butt! I love that you're so willing and eager to tackle more difficult projects head-on!

  3. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend! Isn't spending time with other crafters fun? The fair isle swatches look great : )

  4. Aubrey - Lace work is FAR too complicated for me to tackle at the moment! I'd rather stick with fairisle any day!! Thanks for the congratulations!

    Mkonieczki - Haha 'kicking serious butt' - I love it! Thanks for your encouragement!

    Pumpkin -I love spending time with other crafters - it's so great and a massive boost to my confidence. Knitters are all lovely.

    Unending thanks for the kind words everyone, it truly means a lot. You inspire with ideas for projects and blog posts alike.

  5. These look fabulous! I'm in the mood for some fair isle - you lucky thing going to this workshop!!!